Author Topic: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread  (Read 10414 times)

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #25 on: July 18, 2016, 07:55:51 PM »
 The re-granulated powder sold after the Civil War was better quality, because it came from the captured Confederate powder works, instead of Du Pont. The confederacy was short of everything but powder. The Confederacy had the most advanced powder works in the world. Politically connected Du Pont made sure the Confederate powder plants were rendered unusable, so nobody could step in and ruin their virtual monopoly. The complaints after the rebel powder ran out eventually forced Du Pont to make better powder.

   Hungry Horse

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #26 on: July 18, 2016, 10:45:47 PM »
The re-granulated powder sold after the Civil War was better quality, because it came from the captured Confederate powder works, instead of Du Pont. The confederacy was short of everything but powder. The Confederacy had the most advanced powder works in the world. Politically connected Du Pont made sure the Confederate powder plants were rendered unusable, so nobody could step in and ruin their virtual monopoly. The complaints after the rebel powder ran out eventually forced Du Pont to make better powder.

   Hungry Horse

Not so.  Some years back I ran into a man working on a book on the Confederate powder works.  They had found actual plant records.  Up until that point we had only what Raines had written on the plant.

The Confederate powder works simply followed the latest technology used in England at that time.  the one change was in the preparation of the charcoal and sulfur mixture going into the wheel mills.  Raines set up to steam the combined ingredients before using them in the wheel mills.  That was based on the then idea that during the powder milling process you were impregnation the "pores" in the charcoal with the potassium nitrate solution.  The idea of having to drive the saltpeter solution into the pores of the charcoal was standard writings up until I set up a simply show and tell experiment for the curator of industry at the Hagley museum.  The simple fact is that the sulfur and charcoal particles are hydrophobic.  meaning hates water.  So the problem in the powder manufacturing is to insure an intimate physical contact between the particles in the finished powder.  During the milling, or stamp milling, of the powder you are applying a shearing force on the particles.  Necessary to strip away the very thin film of air that each minute particle covers itself with during the combining of all three ingredients.

My exhibit was simple.  A large glass test tube with distilled water in it.  Then add the ground charcoal, or sulfur into the tube.  Neither would disperse or sink in the water.  If you pushed it down with a glass rod the mass simply formed a huge air bubble around the mass.  Classic hydrophobic behavior.  Then a rubber stopper with a piece of tube was used to seal the test tube.  Then slowly draw the air out of the tube.  A point is then reached where there is not enough air for the ingredient particles to use as a cover.  The charcoal, or sulfur, particles then disperse and slowly sink to the bottom of the tube as individual particles  that cling together.

What Raines steaming did was to prevent the formation of an air film encapsulating the individual particles.  This allowed Raines to reduce the milling time required that would be normal without steamed powder.  But it did nothing in any way to change the performance of the finished powder.

At the end of the civil war there were no large stocks of powder from that plant to be found.  The plant had a very limited production capacity.  Getting raw materials other than charcoal had always been a problem.  Cave saltpeter (calcium nitrate) converted to potassium nitrate was limited in amounts produced.  The Confederate powder works still depended on getting saltpeter through the blockade from England.
 

Offline heinz

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #27 on: July 18, 2016, 11:38:37 PM »
Thanks! It is good to learn a new thing. Especially about gun powder.
kind regards, heinz

Offline hanshi

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #28 on: July 18, 2016, 11:40:44 PM »
Is that meant to be humorous or just to demonstrate ignorance?



Well, heinz; if you can't figure it out then YOU need to look up "stupid" in the dictionary.
!Jozai Senjo! "always present on the battlefield"
Young guys should hang out with old guys; old guys know stuff.

Offline Hungry Horse

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #29 on: July 19, 2016, 01:02:23 AM »
Monk, well I guess you know more than the person that wrote the history of the Gaines brothers, the a
Atlanta powder works, and the government inventory that mentioned the fact that the captured powder works had 70,000 lbs. of powder on hand when it was captured.

  Hungry Horse

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #30 on: July 19, 2016, 02:58:43 AM »
Monk, well I guess you know more than the person that wrote the history of the Gaines brothers, the a
Atlanta powder works, and the government inventory that mentioned the fact that the captured powder works had 70,000 lbs. of powder on hand when it was captured.

  Hungry Horse


Given powder production and use at that time 70,000 pounds of powder was nothing.

A few years back a group wrote a book on that Confederate powder works.  When it was published I never got a copy.  A bit pricey for my wallet.

One of the writers contacted me.  My wife and I spent a day with him at the old du Pont powder works now the Hagley museum and library.  We walked the property and I explained each step of the process to him and what it meant in the finished powder.  Then for the next 6 months I would get letters with notes out of the powder works papers asking for an explanation.  There was a lot written on how Raines set the plant up.  But it was still little more than a copy of some of the newer English powder plants.  The old now defunct S/A Pernambuco Powder Factory in Brazil was also designed and constructed by an English firm using the best English technology of the day only a few years after the Confederate plant had its day.

Du Pont and the other powder companies bought every pound of surplus military powder they could get their hands on.  They left none to be sold at public auction.  Following previous wars the government sales, at auction, of surplus powder drove several companies out of business.

To give some idea of just how much powder was produced and used during the civil War.  As the Civil War started Lamott du Pont took a trip to Europe to look at various powder works in the European countries.   In England he placed an order for 6 million pounds of saltpeter to be shipped to du Pont at Wilmington.  He felt that was enough to get a start on what would be a great increase in demand.  This 6 million pounds of saltpeter was in excess of what the Brits needed for the war they were fighting at the time.

to be continued

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #31 on: July 19, 2016, 03:24:33 AM »
I am assuming here that some BP shooters have an interest in the American black powder industry.  With only the GOEX plant at Minden being the last remaining plant.

Following the close of the Civil War, Lammot du Pont formed what became known as the "Powder Trust".   This group represented the large powder producers.  They allotted sales areas to each company.  They established production poundage allotments for each company.  They set prices.  The idea was to put some stability into the production and marketing of the powders while still making a profit.

With du Pont.  Their territory included what became the anthracite (hard coal) mining in eastern PA.  By the time of the U.S. Civil War the area was producing very large quantities of this coal.  The industry used a large amount of black powder in the blasting work.  By this time there were a host of little powder plants making blasting powder for mines in their area.  To "consolidate" the industry Du Pont tried to buy up these little plants with the idea of simply then shutting them down.  Du Pont would offer them a price well above the actual value of the plant.  Failing that they would try and hire away the head production man.  Failing that there was a pattern where these little plants would close for the weekend and suffer a mysterious fire that leveled the whole operation.  In cases where du Pont was able to purchase a plant they kept the old production manager.  Having him live on the site and pay him a good wage to simply sit and watch the place.  Kept him from going to another company.

Now in some of those areas there were smaller powder plants that specialized in small arms powders.  Making little if any blasting powders.  du Pont left them entirely alone and were known to supply them with raw materials at a good price.  du pont had little interest in civilian market small arms powders.  While they produced these powders they did not go out of their way to drive the little guys out of business who represented no threat to their business.

I used to hunt a section of mountain near Schuylkill Haven, PA where the charring pits are still to be seen that supplied a small arms powder plant just outside of Schuylkill Haven.  One of the plants du Pont assisted rather than buy out or burn down.

To close this.  70,000 pounds of black powder at that time was nothing compared to annual production and use.  And I doubt if the Confederate Powder Works powder was anywhere near as good as DuPont Eagle Brand sporting Powder or some of the other rifle and sporting powders of the day.  After all.  The Confederate plant was making military powders and they were never anything all that good.

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #32 on: July 19, 2016, 03:36:37 AM »
A quick aside here for the authenticity crowd.

At a Civil War gathering I heard some guy lecturing another that his use of burlap sacking was not correct.  That burlap did not show up until some years after the war when machinery to weave the burlap was invented.
So into the fray I went.
When du Pont ordered 6 million pounds of saltpeter it came here in burlap sacks at about 50 pounds each.  Shipped that way out of India where burlap had been hand woven for God knows how long.  But 6 million pounds of saltpeter took a lot of burlap sacks and it had been shipped that way before.
du Pont paid powder plant men's wives to soak the sacks in big pots of water.  The saltpeter rich water then being hauled down to the saltpeter purification house.  the dried burlap sacks then being sold to anybody who wanted them.  So no question but that burlap existed prior to the invention of the burlap weaving machinery.

mparker762

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #33 on: July 19, 2016, 04:00:27 AM »
I am assuming here that some BP shooters have an interest in the American black powder industry.  With only the GOEX plant at Minden being the last remaining plant.

This is Minden, La?  Is this part of the big army ammunition plant in Doyline (just outside of Minden) or does Goex have a separate facility in Minden proper?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2016, 04:00:52 AM by mparker762 »

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #34 on: July 19, 2016, 04:21:42 AM »
I am assuming here that some BP shooters have an interest in the American black powder industry.  With only the GOEX plant at Minden being the last remaining plant.

This is Minden, La?  Is this part of the big army ammunition plant in Doyline (just outside of Minden) or does Goex have a separate facility in Minden proper?

Minden was once the big military munitions operation.  It along with a bunch of others were "privatized".   A portion of the property is still used to store explosives and munitions.  There was a big disposal operation there that had a big storage bunker go up.

The move from Moosic, PA to Minden, LA was actually started back around 1992 by GOEX then under the ownership of some investment company.  That shows up in OSHA records following the  explosion that killed several workers. I go into that in the one piece to be found on the laflindandrand web site in my writings.  It was getting more difficult to run the operation at Moosic.  It was close to the "international" airport at Scranton-Wilkes Barre.  The access road into the plant was an easement over some trucking company property.  They were limited in how much of their production they could store on the plant property at any given time.  Essentially.  Civilization began to hem the plant in.  The idea of moving to Minden was also used to try and beat down the unionization of the Moosic production workers that started after the explosion that got them as list of over 300 OSHA safety violations.

So GOEX bought some ground in what became an industrial park in Doyline.  Built a new plant and used some machinery salvaged from a closed BP plant in South Africa.  They left the old du Pont deigned 10-ton wheel mills at Moosic and used the 5-ton Krupp wheel mills from the plant in South Africa.  That is to say the du Pont mills had a pair of wheels each weighing 10 tons versus the 5 ton wheels in the Krupp mill.  None of the Moosic production workers went to Minden.  Other than the president of the company, only a production supervisor was asked to go to Minden.   It was not long after than when he was killed when a batch of the fruit sugar based Clear Shot powder blew up in a wheel mill.  The "inventor" of that powder had thought that it was perfectly safe to run it in a wheel mill as you would with black powder.  Following that they worked up a production process based on the use of candy making machinery.

Offline heinz

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #35 on: July 19, 2016, 04:27:52 PM »
Monk, I appreciate the history lesson. In late 1960s and 70s I used to fly into Wilkes Barre Scranton. RCA had a plant in Mountaintop Pa. I think I remember DuPont having an explosion at the Moosic plant before GOEX bought the facility.  Am I correct?
I also remember the one end of the runway was on a ramp hanging out over the edge of themountain and pointed n the general direction on Moosic.
kind regards, heinz

Offline Mad Monk

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Re: Short starters and 3F/4F? from the Dubbs smooth rifle thread
« Reply #36 on: July 19, 2016, 09:03:33 PM »
Monk, I appreciate the history lesson. In late 1960s and 70s I used to fly into Wilkes Barre Scranton. RCA had a plant in Mountaintop Pa. I think I remember DuPont having an explosion at the Moosic plant before GOEX bought the facility.  Am I correct?
I also remember the one end of the runway was on a ramp hanging out over the edge of themountain and pointed n the general direction on Moosic.

The story I saw in one ml mag said that du Pont closed Moosic after a big explosion.  But I could find nothing to back that up.  Everything I could dig up suggested it was simply a thing of getting out of a dying business.  The war in Nam was winding down and military powders were the major profit item.  Then they were also having problems with the military powders.  They did not have the faintest idea that the water quality problem was the source of their powder quality problems.  A buddy who served in name told me about the artillery problems they had in 1968 with the big howitzers.  Short rounds into our troops.  Gun firings that sounded funny and ruined the tubes.  There was a group within du Pont that felt since the bp business was the company's starting business they should stay in it.  Others felt it simply was not profitable enough to continue.

I know what you mean about airport's position relative to the powder plant.  Depending on how the plane lands it is flying almost over the plant and at a low altitude.  Checked that out a number of times in my MS FSX in the computer.  GOEX had one blow up that left machinery parts on the airport property.

Then GOEX had a number of "incidents" at Moosic.  Whenever they had to shut down to rebuild machinery they had to deal with the PA DNR which later was changed to the PA Dept. Of Natural Resources.  Restarting the rebuilt machinery required an inspection and permit.  The state thinks nothing of making a company wait 6 months for a start up permit even if it took only two weeks to repair the machinery.  I went through that nonsense several times in the PVC plant.  That state permitting circus forced a number of businesses out of PA.  Still another reason why GOEX moved to Minden.